Van Buren Council approves land buy, pay raises

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 41 views 

The Van Buren City Council unanimously authorized purchase of lands for the city’s new police station and approved 2013 pay increases for elected officials Monday night (Dec. 17).

The items headlined the council’s end-of-year meeting at the Van Buren Municipal Complex.

Leading the agenda was a land purchase in the amount of $450,000 for properties at 714/814 Fayetteville Road – the sites of Sherman’s Grocery and AAA Mower Mart, which together hold an appraisal value of $500,000.

Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman confirmed the city would demolish Sherman’s, but said the AAA Mower Mart “could remain,” though it may be subject to “re-skinning and renovation” in order to be included as part of the new station.

The move is one of the first major steps for the city in enacting a plan approved by voters in July. During that month’s special election, Van Buren voters approved $11.7 million in capital improvement projects by a margin of 70% to 30%.

Of those new capital improvement projects, the new police station was expected to be the most expensive at an estimated $4.4 million. The new fire station would run $2.9 million, and the senior center, safe shelter and associated demolition were expected to total close to $2.65 million.

Rounding out the plans were about $1.75 million in park improvements.

The council also affirmed 2013 pay increases for two elected officials, Mayor Freeman (an increase of around 2% to $62,551 per year) and City Clerk-Treasurer Barbie Curtis (an increase to $46,277, also 2%). Additionally, the city’s share of District Court Judge Stephen Peer’s salary was set at $27,551.

Closing out financial business, the council approved lighting and installation for the municipal tennis courts by vote of 5-0. Equipment costs will run $83,000 plus sales tax, labor and unloading of equipment as needed. The city will purchase the equipment and associated costs from MUSCO Lighting and will pay an additional $83,000 to Hill Electric, Inc., plus sales tax, labor and unloading of equipment for installation.

Finally, the council said goodbye to one of its own in 12-term alderman Bill Swaim.

Swaim died in November after serving 24 years as an alderman. On Monday wife Patsy and daughter Nancy Card were in attendance as Freeman presented them with a Key to the City plaque in Swaim’s honor.

“Twenty four years of service to this community,” an emotional Freeman said. “He was quite the guy.”

Card said her father “loved Van Buren.” Swaim was 77.

The next meeting of the Van Buren City Council is set for Jan. 28, 2013.